United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Pine Bluff Division
OPINION AND ORDER
LEON HOLMES UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Hayes, an inmate incarcerated at the Cummins Unit in Grady,
Arkansas, brings this action pro se pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983. Hayes alleges that Radawn S. Baker-a
prison official-used excessive force in violation of the
Eighth Amendment's prohibition of cruel and unusual
punishment. Magistrate Judge Beth Deere has recommended that
Hayes's complaint be dismissed without prejudice for
failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.
Hayes filed objections to this recommendation. The Court has
reviewed the recommendation and the objections. For the
following reasons, Hayes's complaint is dismissed without
complaint must contain “a short and plain statement of
the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to
relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). While Rule 8(a)(2) does
not require a complaint to contain detailed factual
allegations, it does require a plaintiff to state the grounds
of his entitlement to relief, which requires more than labels
and conclusions. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1964-65, 167 L.Ed.2d 929
(2007). In ruling on a motion to dismiss, the Court must
accept as true all factual allegations in the complaint and
review the complaint to determine whether its allegations
show that the pleader is entitled to relief. Gorog v.
Best Buy Co., Inc., 760 F.3d 787, 792 (8th Cir. 2014).
All reasonable inferences from the complaint must be drawn in
favor of the nonmoving party. Id. The Court need
not, however, accept as true legal conclusions, even those
stated as though they are factual allegations. Ashcroft
v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949-50,
173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009). A pro se complaint must be
liberally construed, however inartfully pleaded, and held to
less stringent standards than pleadings drafted by lawyers.
Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94, 127 S.Ct. 2197,
2200, 167 L.Ed.2d 1081 (2007); Jackson v. Nixon, 747
F.3d 537, 541 (8th Cir. 2014).
claims that Baker violated the Eighth Amendment by using
excessive force in response to a fight that broke out between
two inmates in the chow hall on May 25, 2016. According to
Hayes, Baker fired a round from a riot gun into a crowd of
inmates. The round struck Hayes in the upper left arm,
leaving a bruise.
argues that Hayes's individual capacity claim against her
is barred by qualified immunity and that his official
capacity claim against her is barred by sovereign immunity.
The doctrine of qualified immunity provides that
“government officials performing discretionary
functions generally are shielded from liability for civil
damages insofar as their conduct does not violate clearly
established statutory or constitutional rights of which a
reasonable person would have known.” Harlow v.
Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800, 818, 102 S.Ct. 2727, 2738, 73
L.Ed.2d 396 (1982).
that a prison official's conduct violated the Eighth
Amendment, an inmate must satisfy two requirements: (1) The
deprivation of rights, viewed objectively, must be
sufficiently serious and (2) The prison official must have
subjectively had a sufficiently culpable state of mind.
See Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834, 114 S.Ct.
1970, 128 L.Ed.2d 811 (1994). “The nature of the
prisoner's Eighth Amendment claim dictates the state of
mind in which the [prison officials] must have acted in order
to find them liable.” Arnold v. Groose, 109
F.3d 1292, 1298 (8th Cir. 1997). The “core judicial
inquiry” applied to excessive force claims is whether
the prison official applied force “‘in a good
faith effort to maintain or restore discipline, or
maliciously and sadistically to cause harm.'”
Smith v. Conway Cnty. Ark., 759 F.3d 853, 858 (8th
Cir. 2014) (quoting Santiago v. Blair, 707 F.3d 984,
990 (8th Cir. 2013)). Factors relevant to this inquiry
include the need for application of force, the relationship
between that need and the amount of force used, the threat
prison officials reasonably perceived, and any efforts made
to temper the severity of a forceful response. Hudson v.
McMillan, 503 U.S. 1, 7112 S.Ct. 995, 999, 117 L.Ed.2d
the use of excessive force, viewed objectively, is
sufficiently serious to invoke the Eighth Amendment, the
issue here is the requirement that Baker have had a
sufficiently culpable state of mind. The facts alleged do not
support an inference that Baker acted maliciously or
sadistically to cause harm to Hayes, or to any other
prisoner. See Parkus v. Delo, 135 F.3d 1232, 1234
(8th Cir. 1998) (describing the “very high state of
mind” controlling excessive force cases). First, Hayes
alleges that Baker fired the riot gun into the crowd in
response to a fight that broke out between two inmates in the
chow hall. Quelling fights was part of Baker's
responsibility as a guard to restore discipline. Second,
according to Hayes, Baker filed only a single round into the
crowd. Firing a single round to disperse the crowd was an
effort to temper the severity of a forceful response.
Finally, Hayes alleges the strike from the riot gun left a
“noticeable bruise, ” which is not a serious
injury. See Hudson, 503 U.S. at 7, 112 S.Ct. at 999
(“The absence of a serious injury is therefore relevant
to the Eighth Amendment inquiry, but does not end
it.”). The facts alleged do not support an inference
that Baker applied force maliciously or sadistically. Rather,
the facts alleged indicate that Baker acted with good faith
to restore discipline. The Court is required to view the
facts in Hayes's favor and construe the allegations
liberally since he is pro se, but the Court is not
required to supplement his complaint with additional detail.
Because the complaint does not allege facts from which it can
reasonably be inferred that there was an Eighth Amendment
violation, Baker is entitled to qualified immunity.
is also entitled to sovereign immunity on Hayes's
official capacity claim because the complaint failed to
allege an Eighth Amendment violation. Elder-Keep v.
Aksamit, 460 F.3d 979, 986 (8th Cir. 2006) (citing
Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159, 165, 105 S.Ct.
3099, 87 L.Ed.2d 114 (1985)).
reasons set forth above, the recommended disposition is
adopted as modified herein. Hayes's complaint is
dismissed without prejudice. The Court certifies that an
in forma pauperis appeal would not be taken in good
 Hayes originally identified Baker as